The Washington Supreme Court has granted an emergency stay for local media to keep unaired protest video private, instead of submitting to a subpoena from the Seattle Police Department (SPD).
The state's highest court granted the stay to local media outlets KING 5, KOMO, KIRO, Q13 and The Seattle Times after SPD subpoenaed the media for raw footage from May 30 protests in downtown Seattle.
KING 5 and other local media believe the request is a violation of the Washington Shield Law.
KING 5 believes the subpoena threatens editorial independence and could put journalists in danger, because people may be led to believe that KING 5 turns over information to police that goes unreported to the public; something KING 5 does not do.
A King County judge ruled that local media must submit their raw footage to SPD, which the media outlets appealed.
The stay is in effect until the state Supreme Court takes up the matter again.
KING 5 News Director Pete Saiers issued the following statement about the SPD subpoena:
"As journalists, we do not work with, or for, the government entities we cover. When we're turned into a fact-gathering apparatus, it undermines our constitutionally protected role and harms the flow of information to the public."